The Cast of 'Forrest Gump,' Then and Now

8:30 AM 7/5/2019

by Lily Rosenberg

The movie, which first hit theaters July 6, 1994, went on to win six Oscars, including a best actor statuette for star Tom Hanks.

Forrest Gump-Photofest still 2-H 2019
Paramount Pictures/Photofest

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Forrest Gump, which made $707.7 million at the domestic box office (adjusted for inflation).

Forrest Gump follows the story of a man whose slow-wittedness doesn't hold him back. As his life unfolds, he becomes a college football star, Medal of Honor-winning soldier, successful shrimp boat entrepreneur and a man in love with his first friend, Jenny. The film won six Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best film editing and best visual effects, along with a best actor statuette for Tom Hanks.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary, Paramount Pictures held an outdoor screening of Robert Zemeckis' film May 24 on the National Mall in Washington D.C., in a nod to the scene in front of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. Wendy Finerman, Oscar-winning producer of the film, and retired Sergeant First Class Sammy L. Davis both attended the screening. Davis' real-life Medal of Honor ceremony appeared in the film, with Hanks superimposed.

The 1995 cast has gone on to star in more Oscar-nominated films, on Broadway and in television, and some have done their share of producing and directing. Read on to see what the cast has been up to since the movie first hit theaters on July 6, 1994.

  • Tom Hanks

    Before Forrest Gump hit theaters, Hanks was already a seasoned actor with an Academy Award under his belt for his performance in Philadelphia. A year later, he won another best actor Oscar for Forrest Gump. Throughout his career, he has been nominated for five Academy Awards, 12 Emmys and nine Golden Globes, winning for his acting and directing. Hanks also received a Kennedy Center Honors award from President Obama in 2014 for his contributions to American culture.

    Additionally, before Sally Field played Hanks' mother, Hanks and Fields worked together in the 1988 movie Punchline, where Hanks' character developed feelings for Field's, a much different relationship to theirs in Forrest Gump. Hanks, who also has starred in Saving Private Ryan and Cast Away, currently can be heard reprising his role as Woody in Toy Story 4.

    His next movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is about the real-life friendship of journalist Tom Junod and Fred Rogers (played by Hanks), will be released later this year. He also is slated to play Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann's as-yet-untitled upcoming Elvis Presley bio-drama. 

    Hanks made his Broadway debut in 2013 in Nora Ephron's posthumously produced play about the New York newspaper business, Lucky Guy,  receiving a lead actor Tony Award nomination for his role as real-life police-beat reporter Mike McAlary.

  • Robin Wright

    Robin Wright got her big break in Hollywood with the soap opera Santa Barbara, which she starred in for several years. After her soap opera days, she starred in the film The Princess Bride alongside Cary Elwes, and a few years later played Jenny in Forrest Gump. Her portrayal of Jenny, Forrest Gump’s first friend, who becomes a free-love hippie and after years of traveling and living a wild life returns to Forrest, earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

    She later went on to appear in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and in Wonder Women. She has been starring in House of Cards since 2013, which earned her two Golden Globe nominations, winning one, and five Emmy nominations. After fellow House of Cards star Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual assault, the actress, executive producer and sometimes director of the show also became its sole leading star for the final season last year.

  • Gary Sinise

    Gary Sinise plays Lieutenant Dan Taylor, Forrest's commanding officer in the Vietnam War and, later, his friend. In Vietnam, their platoon gets ambushed, resulting in Lt. Dan losing both legs and Forrest saving his life. Furious at Forrest for saving him, Dan finally softens toward Forrest and their relationship eventually changes into friendship, later becoming business partners in the Bubba Gump Shrimp company.

    Off camera, after 9/11, Sinise created the Gary Sinise Foundation to honor veterans, first responders and their families. He also created the "Lt. Dan Band," which performs 30 shows a year for military bases and charities around the United States. For his service work, Sinise received the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment and was presented with the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense.

    In addition to his charitable pursuits, since Forrest Gump, Sinise has appeared on Broadway for both The Grapes of Wrath and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He also starred on CSI: NY for nine seasons and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. He can be seen in Good Joe Bell in 2020 with Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton.

  • Sally Field

    Before playing Forrest Gump's mother, Sally Field had already received two Academy Awards for her roles in Norma Rae and Places in the Heart. The daughter of actress Margaret Field, she started acting at 18 with her role in the television series Gidget.

    Throughout her career she has starred in films, television and on Broadway, and directed. In addition to her Oscars, she has won three Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and was nominated for a Tony Award and two BAFTA Awards.

    Before her role in Forrest Gump, the actress starred in Steel Magnolias and Mrs. Doubtfire. Since Forrest Gump, she has been in the 2012 Oscar-winning movie Lincoln, The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel and Hello, My Name is Doris.

    Field appeared on Broadway in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and the 2017 revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, for which she received a Tony nomination as best actress in a play. More recently, she made her London stage debut in Arthur Miller's All My Sons, starring opposite Bill Pullman.

  • Mykelti Williamson

    Williamson played Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue, Forrest’s best friend whom he meets in the U.S. Army, where their platoon is ambushed and Bubba is killed. Before they are sent off to Vietnam, Bubba convinces Forrest to join him in pursuing a shrimping business after they finish their service, a promise that Forrest keeps. Partnering with Lt. Dan, Forrest names it the Bubba Gump Shrimp company, and later gifts half his earnings to Bubba's family.

    Williamson has since been in Con Air and Free Willy, and played Gabriel, the troubled brother of Denzel Washington’s character, in the 2016 Oscar-nominated movie Fences. He has also appeared in the television shows Boomtown, 24 and Justified. 

    Williamson also briefly reunited with his Forrest Gump co-star Sinise in several episodes of CSI: NY. He also had recurring roles in Designated Survivor and Chicago P.D.

  • Haley Joel Osment

    Haley Joel Osment started his acting career at age 4. His work before Forrest Gump includes a Pizza Hut commercial set at a mall. After gaining attention from his commercial, he booked his first film, Forrest Gump, where he played Forrest Gump Jr., the son of Jenny and Forrest.

    His role in the movie did not bring him stardom, though; that came from his role in the Oscar-nominated The Sixth Sense in 1999 with co-star Bruce Willis. For the movie, he received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor at age 11, losing to his future co-star of Secondhand Lions, Michael Caine.

    He later went on to star in Pay It Forward and appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated A.I. Artificial Intelligence in 2001. Throughout his childhood, he appeared in various TV series, including The Jeff Foxworthy Show and Murphy Brown, and made guest appearances on The Larry Sanders Show. He has voiced characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and The Jungle Book 2, and in 2008 Osment was in the short-lived Broadway revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo.

    Within recent years, Osment appeared in the 2015 film Entourage, had a recurring role in HBO’s Silicon Valley and can be seen in the Netflix film about killer Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile, told from his girlfriend's perspective.